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Revitalising Nicosia on the Athens model
2005-10-05 13:16:35

By Constantine Markides

THE Greek company that revitalised the historic centre of downtown Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games by promoting green spaces, public transport and pedestrian areas is seeking to export the same urban revitalisation model to Cyprus.

The Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens is a limited company working from the public sector in Greece that restructured the face of historic Athens by unifying the archaeological sites with public and open areas, public installations, and areas used for cultural activity and relaxation, thereby creating a four-kilometre long archaeological park that seeks to re-establish the natural continuity of the architectural zones and monuments. Company Director Dora Galani presented a seminar to architects and municipal officials in Nicosia last month that consisted of a similar unification plan for the historic centre of Nicosia. Also speaking at the seminar was the Company Head of Legal Service Victoria Efthymiadou, who presented plans to clean up and dismantle obstructive advertising boards in the historic centre.

“The attractive city makes the hard daily life of the citizen more comfortable,” a press release of the event said.

Abandoned spaces would be developed into handsome public spaces, while the establishment of an efficient public transport system and attractive pedestrian routes would discourage automobiles and check increased pollution, which in Athens has caused so much damage to the Parthenon and surrounding ruins.

Advertising billboards would be relegated to limited areas that would not interfere with the aesthetic experience that the historic centre should offer, while any new construction would consider the environmental impact of the construction and incorporate the natural environment into the design plans.

The speakers emphasised that the existence of archaeological sites would not hinder or conflict with the development of the new city.

“The work they [the unification company] did in Athens to improve the face of the city was excellent and truly impressive,” said Evis Hadjicostas, Director of Quintessence Enterprises, the company that organised the seminar. “The purpose of the seminar was to help assist the Municipality and the architects that take on the urban planning work and to give them momentum to do similar work in Cyprus.” “I anticipate that this sort of meeting will happen again next March,” Hadjicostas added. “We wanted to show that you can bring out the attractive face of the city and make it more friendly to the citizen so that the citizen loves his city.

“If the city does not love the citizen and doesn’t offer him anything, then how can the citizen love the city?”

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